For me, understanding the context surrounding the evolution of a knife pattern or style, where possible, adds to the enjoyment of ownership. In regard to the OSS/SOE Escape Knife, one way of doing this is to identify other knives from the same era that appear to be designed for a similar purpose.
I have identified two knives in my accumulation that have some similarities to the OSS/SOE Escape Knife and/or to those that preceded it, as follows:
1. Barnett Plyer Knife manufacture by the “O. BARNETT TOOL CO. NEWARK NJ” which is stamped on the tang of the cutting blade, together with “TRADE HHH MARK” stamped on the arm of the plyer. Length closed is 4.125 inches. What is of interest is that copyright for the knife was registered in 1900 which is the same as the date of the Registered Design for the original Joseph Rodgers “Military Knife P.1633.”
Source: Author’s collection
2. John Watts wire cutter knife, having “JOHN WATTS SHEFFIELD ENGLAND” stamped on the tang of the cutting blade and WATT’S PATENT stamped on the arm of the wire-cutter. Length closed is 4.5 inches. It is difficult to date this knife, but note that the tin opener is that same as was in common usage in WW1 and most of the components (except the cutting blade) are nickel-plated which suggests that it was made most likely between the introduction of commercial Ni plating electrolyte in 1916 and the late 1920s, and therefore perhaps should also be viewed in the context of the original Joseph Rodgers “Military Knife P.1633.”.
Source: Author’s collection
1. M. H. Cole, U.S. Military Knives, Bayonets and Machetes, Book III. Published by the author, 1979
2. Ron Flook, British and Commonwealth Military Knives. Howell Press, 1999
3. “Secret Agent’s Handbook of Special Devices” Public Records Office, London 2000
4. Brian Moyse & Roy Shadbolt “The Elusive MI9 Escape Knife” article in the September 2014 edition of Knife World magazine
5. Brian M. Moyse & Allan H. Moyse “A Rodgers Military Special” article in the October 2016 edition of Knife World magazine
6. “mark side” being the side of the knife that normally displays blade stamps and tang stamp; the “pile side” is the reverse side. Some commentators use “obverse” and “reverse” instead – which means the same.
7. Frederick J. Stephens, Fighting Knives, An Illustrated Guide to Fighting Knives and Military Survival Weapons of the World. Arms and Armour Press, 1985
8. Ron Flook has advised me that “Eclipse” is a well-known UK blade maker that was established in 1909,
9. Christopher Clayton Hutton – see details on page 6 of article: “The Elusive MI9 Escape Knife” by Brian Moyse & Roy Shadbolt in the September 2014 edition of Knife World magazine
10. M. H. Cole …
11. American Blade magazine Volume 11 Number 4 – May/June 1975
12. North West Knives and Collectibles November 2000 sales catalog
13. Michael W. Silvey. Pocket Knives of the United States Military. Published by the author, 2002
14. Ron Flook: article “Makers of SOE Knives revealed” in September 2012 edition of Knife World magazine
15. “Military Knives – a reference book” © Copyright 2001 Knife World Publications.
The technical knowledge and advice provided by UK collectors and commentators Ron Flook and Martin Cook, and US knife expert Bernard Levine greatly assisted me in understanding the broader links in the OSS/SOE Escape Knife narrative, which ensured that this Collector Note is far more comprehensive than I had initially envisaged.
UPDATES, ELABORATIONS & CORRECTIONS
Much of the value of ‘web notes’ such as this Collector Note lie in their ability to be regularly updated, elaborated and corrected, so that in-reality there is no final version – it is in-fact a ‘never-ending story’. My purpose is to assist in filling the knowledge gap regarding antique Sheffield pocket knives and folding knives that was very apparent to me all through my collecting years – to encourage/assist new collectors, and to generally promote the pleasure associated with such collecting.
To this end, any suggestions/contributions that fellow collectors may have that will improve the content of this Collector Note and thus expand the knowledge base will be most welcome, and I am sure will be greatly appreciated by all present and future collectors of the OSS/SOE Escape Knife.